robert fullemRobert Fullem

Major: Genetics (B.S.) & Computer Science (B.A.)

Graduation Year: 2017

How did you decide on your major?

This was an easy decision for me. I always knew I loved genetics (I would read ahead to the genetics chapter during my high school biology classes) and so when I learned that Rutgers offered a dedicated major in genetics, I knew it was the right choice for me.

What is it about your chosen field (and the department) that appealed to you?

It is difficult to narrow down to just one thing since my entire involvement within the genetics major was positive. In particular, my undergraduate research in Dr. Michael Verzi’s lab was a very rewarding and enjoyable experience, due to the quality of mentorship I received and the collaborative environment I was exposed to.

What is your current position, what do you do, and what do you enjoy most about it?

I will be starting a PhD program in Quantitative and Computational Biosciences at Baylor College of Medicine in the Fall of 2019. I’m not sure yet what I’ll enjoy most about it but I’m excited to find out!

What was your first job after Rutgers and how did you get it?

From Summer 2017 to Summer 2019, I worked as a Scientific Program Analyst at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). NHGRI is one of a number of institutes and centers that comprise the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

As I was nearing my graduation from Rutgers, I was planning to find full time work in my field for 1-2 years before applying to PhD programs. In discussing my options with one of my mentors Dr. Tara Matise, she alerted me to the Scientific Program Analyst opportunity at NHGRI.

How did you move from that first job to your current position?

During my 2nd year at NHGRI I applied to a number of graduate schools and was lucky enough to get accepted to several of my top choices. My coursework and research at Rutgers undoubtedly played a major role in securing these acceptances.

Looking back, what classes or experiences at Rutgers would you point to as contributing to your successes?

As previously mentioned, my research at Rutgers was a formative experience for me, and certainly played a major role in my success. Additionally, the foundational coursework of the major (Genetic Analysis I, Genetic Analysis II, and Effective Communications Skills in Genetics) were engaging, relevant, and problem-solving focused classes. I have consistently relied on the knowledge and skills I learned in those courses. This core coursework is supplemented by a number of electives that allow each student to focus on the areas of genetics that are most interesting to them. Having spoken to a number of post-baccalaureate students from other Universities, I appreciate how rare it is to have such a broad array of entirely genetics focused classes to choose from at the undergraduate level.

What advice do you have for our current Arts and Sciences Students?

The genetics department hosts frequent seminars for Rutgers and guest faculty to present their work. Take advantage and attend these seminars when you can. You can hear about some of the really exciting work going on in our field.

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